By Jeff Olson
Just named as a substitute driver in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, Max Root took full advantage of the opportunity to win the Motul Pole Award in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying for the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120.
Filling in for the recuperating Ryan Hardwick, the 22-year-old Root turned a lap of 2:11.322 (102.526 mph) to claim honors in the Grand Sport (GS) class. It was nearly a full second better than the second-best lap run by Orey Fidani in the No. 13 AWA McLaren 570S GT4.
“I got the call from John (Wright) a couple days ago for this first GT4 race, so I had to figure it all out,” Root said, “but they made it super easy on me. My co-driver Jan (Heylen) helped me out with some data and it was a pretty smooth lap. We’re in a good spot for the race tomorrow and that’s what we’re here for.”
Brian Henderson put the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic FK7 TCR on pole in the Touring Car (TCR) class with a lap of 2:14.806 (99.876 mph). Tyler Gonzalez ran second in the No. 27 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N TCR (2:14.952, 99.768 mph).
“It took until the end of the session, but we finally got a good lap in,” Henderson said. “The guys were on the radio with me and let me know we needed just a few more tenths (of a second). I think I got ’em in the last few sectors. Really happy with that, really happy with the team. Atlanta Speedwerks has been doing a great job and we appreciate Honda Performance Development’s support.”
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 begins at 2:35 p.m. Friday. Live coverage is available on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The IMSA Radio telecast airs on IMSA.com.